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Darcy

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Darcy last won the day on June 30

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  1. > Just so that the "experts" don't laugh at you for having green papers. It's because the papers are (a) disavowed (b) were not intended at the time of their writing to be as strict as current papers (c) purposefully abused to take advantage of collectors to the point that people went to prison. Being part of flushing the rest of the green papers out of the system, so they are not lying there as traps and time bombs to future collectors, is a good thing. Unless of course someone depends on a class of disavowed, exaggerated, or purposefully corrupt "authentication papers" to sell one's inventory. Again, none of this is confusing in the Japanese dealer community. The average quality of the papers is considered junk and people do not present items to each other with a green paper with some kind of implication that it has any bearing on what you're looking at. The only places that green papers get pumped heavily as being reliable is in the west. Usually in the context of "wants to sell you something."
  2. I know of some of the pieces in the collections being used for this, and this would be a high level exhibition even in Japan. Some things that will be shown will be shown for the first time. I haven't been to the USA for 5 years but this exhibition makes me want to get on a plane. Good luck.
  3. Understanding this... Tokuju papers usually have a period listed right in the setsumei, unlike Juyo. On this one it is very clearly set to middle Kamakura. Their mentioning of Heian is a transcription error or a copy and paste error or two different clerks writing it up. It happens a lot there so you need to be careful. With Ko-Bizen it is kind of a simple error to conflate them with Heian blades, because in the Heian period we classify most things as Ko-Bizen in Bizen. But it needs to be understood as kind of an umbrella under which we place the older Bizen works when we can't clearly define a group to assign them to. So in the Kamakura period if you are an "unaligned" swordsmith that we can't place where you belong, you will fall into the Ko-Bizen classification. In terms of Tochika there may be many generations or just one, there is not enough information to tell and different theories are out there. In these cases the NBTHK can and likes to write about specific pieces, in this case saying that this is a middle Kamakura Tochika while mentioning a theory that he was a son of Masatsune (there are several ways to interpret Masatsune as well in terms of generations and time period). Other times they have mentioned Tsuneto and they have also mentioned that there is a possibility that he is Hatakeda or early Hatakeda somehow. So you kind of can't go wrong by just saying that this one in particular is middle Kamakura and it is certainly authentic and high quality Tochika. But it's really wrong to just pop open Fujishiro and see there is one entry for Tochika and he puts him at the end of Heian so saying that because this is Tochika then it's Heian period. Even the strongest things we can say about dates when we get to middle Kamakura and earlier has to have a big fudge factor of decades to centuries because we literally move back from clearly documented history to poorly documented history to the time of legendary smiths. A lot of that gray area can be dealt with by saying Ko-Bizen or Ko-Kyo and then leaving it as a subject for further research. This it not purely a punt but just the knowledge that swords are still being discovered that can tell us more about what we want to know from the earliest times.
  4. I think it's more to do with the former than the latter. I think you have misunderstood what the poster was getting at. It is an issue of ending up in these kinds of tweener blades that carry a high enough price that they are out of the range of most sword collectors that represent the bottom part of the market in terms of budget, and they do not carry the most important attributes of the smith that are appealing to collectors who can afford to buy the top examples. If you go out and you buy the worst possible Chogi for instance, congratulations, you have got yourself a very expensive sword, that 95% of people cannot afford and the remaining 5% will tell you "please find me a better one." That blade is in the danger zone. It means you have nowhere to turn if you want to sell it. You thought you were damn clever with your budget and it was your lucky day to buy this wonderful piece but when it comes time to sell, now you need to find someone who has the exact same high budget as you did to buy the blade in the first place, but also has no sensitivity to quality and so hasn't said he will pass on that example in order to find one that has the best characteristics of the smith. This kind of Chogi can be Juyo and can be 8 million yen. That is far in excess of what a normal person can buy. And, the vast majority of people who CAN enter the market at that range, their potential goes much higher than this and they will pass on that one and say find me a 20 million yen type https://www.tsuruginoya.com/items/f00293.html that exhibits all the features of the smith. The 8M one is in the danger zone. It is bought because it's thought to be thrifty but it is in the end not the kind of blade that people will fight over who are capable of buying a Chogi. The only reason to buy that Chogi is because you absolutely must have one and this is your threshold of pain. So it is this, or none, and you decided that it will be this. In which case you made 100% the right decision... but you did so because you were informed and understood. Not because you were driven by the thoughts of being rewarded for being thrifty and buying the equivalent blade as the 20M one for a lot cheaper. That's the wrong decision and that is how you hurt yourself. If you go and buy a suguba type Ichimonji with many problems, again it can be accurately judged or even signed, but a lot of buyers who are in that price category will also have the type of discretion to say I don't want that one, show me one that has flamboyant activity all up and down the blade and I will pay more. That is the danger zone. Or a blade that is by a low ranking school or low ranking smith but barely qualified for Juyo in a weaker session, someone may buy that blade because it's Juyo and because they made the mistake of buying the papers over the sword. Well they celebrate that they bought "a cheap Juyo" but that is not what they have done. They have bought a weaker example of a weaker school or weaker smith than what exists in the market. If it is expensive enough, again, they have crossed out the bottom of the market when the time comes to sell and they have crossed out the higher part of the market. That is the danger zone. There is nowhere for that blade to go, you cannot make the sword better to appeal to the upper part of the market. So, lacking finding such a value conscious and thrifty buyer as yourself, you have only one place to go and that is down, down, down until you hit the point where there are enough low budget buyers that they will pick your blade up based on what attributes it does have. That is how you end up escaping the danger zone which is by setting yourself on fire. That danger zone as mentioned with the Chogi example is going to vary based on the smith and the quality of the pieces in question. Chogi can go very high, I saw one at 40 million yen and even though "only Hozon" I saw one that the dealer quoted out as high as 25M yen because every time someone agreed to his price he thought about it a bit and then declined to sell it and the next guy who asked got a higher price. That is his prerogative because he has to decide at that point in time what he would rather have, the money or the sword, and in each case he thought about it and said to himself I think I'll keep this sword. These tweener pieces though what is in common is not the papers or the actual price but that they exist on the low part of the spectrum of expression of a particular smith's work. i.e. "the worst possible example". As you ascend higher in the scope of the smiths work you will enter into an acceptable gray zone and from there pass out. At what pricing level those are depends on the smith and the support in the market for him, and the quality of the work at hand. Going back to the reference example it is possible for a Nobuhide to be quoted out over 12M yen and I've seen seen it, blade was not even offered for sale but it was indicated that the price was over this part. This blade of course had the top class horimono possible for the smith and the entire blade was made beautifully. Subtract the horimono and the price on the same blade falls by 50-60%. If you get into the type of quality that cannot pass Juyo (again, it's not the paper that leads it it's the sword, and the papers follow the indications made by the sword and are not the cause), then you can end up with this class of "nice sword" type of Nobuhide that is in the 2-3M yen range. The market will support those, they are still good swords. The entire problem comes in when someone misguides a buyer and tells them that horimono or special features of a smith have nothing to do with the price and conflates everything together. Thus, such a buyer may see a Nobuhide on the market at 2.6M yen and see another at 6M yen and then year of this one I speak about in the 12M+ yen range that the owner will not even sell. Now he buys the Nobuhide @ 2.6 not because it's the right sword for him, or because it is great, but because he doesn't know the fundamental differences between the 12M+ one and the 2.6M one, he conflates the two and then thinks he's got himself an amazing deal for getting a Nobuhide so cheap. No, he got a Nobuhide of average make and quality sans horimono at the market price for that kind of sword. It is not a ripoff and it is not a steal, but he bought it on the perception of being thrifty by price comparing but not having access to all of the information that drives those prices. Precisely because ... people just don't have the information, or when someone asks in a place like this, someone like you launches an ad hominem and implies the information is bad based on the source (in itself a fallacy) and so invalid (in this case the wrong conclusion) and so that there is no difference between the two (false) and then leading this person to bad guidance that they should indeed recognize the 2.6M yen one as a bargain. It's not. It's just like anything else, floated at what the market will support for that kind of sword. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less, because it's an art not a science but that's what's going on. Now that owner of the amazing will happily turn over any number of the 2.6M yen type of blade. They are, as they would say over there, "business swords", or as dealers would say over here, "merch." They will turn those over many, many times but they will hold that precious one for themselves or else to reward a special client (and so reward the relationship which is beneficial to themselves). But that thing is just not going to leave for no reason and at 2.6M yen like the commercial grade ones. The vast quantity of what is bought and sold on the market are these "merch" or "business swords" as they are obtainable and they are also what people think of as being high value for the dollar when they do not know that there is NO equivalence between a blade with all of the smith's special features and one considerably lacking in them or lacking one of the most key elements. Like the example of a suguba Ichimonji, it is of scholarly interest for what it is, especially if signed it can be of historical interest, but the buyer for that is a man who has a significant collection of Ichimonji and wishes to show all of the spectrum of their work. That kind of collector and their means is not someone that we encounter on a daily basis and that sword is for his collection. The average collector, even one of significant means, will want instead to pursue the archetype as closely as they can, and where sacrificing, will attempt to sacrifice in areas away from where the archetype is affected. One example of this is a blade being suriage because the rest of the work can be perfectly healthy and in perfect keeping with the school, but the nakago is gone. This is a tradeoff that reduces the value of a blade considerably vs. ubu but preserves almost all of the essential aspects of the school. This is why indeed this is the biggest part of the market because it allows most mortal people to buy them and doesn't push things into the million dollar range. And this all goes back to great horimono in a Nobuhide because that is part of the archetype and why a blade lacking that is valued less on the market in money terms, and also considered less precious by collectors. Absolute dollar value and preciousness do not necessarily go hand in hand, because you could have something like extremely precious wonderful Ko-Mino tosogu and have them outpriced by a Shinshinto sword quite easily. And preciousness will really depend on your point of view. This whole thing about assigning prices to papers is, again, wrong and I credit Bob Hughes for talking about this with me at length and he named it "ladder theory" and went over all the reasons he felt it was wrong. I have always been in 100% agreement with his feelings on this and renamed it as ladder fallacy to try to get more to the core of it not being a valid theory to follow. https://blog.yuhindo.com/ladder-theory/ Now herein are some major logical issues. The first is that you have dismissed generalities above and then you immediately enter into several generalities of your own. So, the question I pose here is: what do you actually believe? That generalities in general are wrong as you first claim or is that generalities are right but only when you use them? Generalities are just what they are: they are a guideline, nothing more. There is no way of attacking someone offering generalities, other than if the generality is completely off kilter. You seem to be reaching for that magic drawer of swords again but not only does it hold a large number of accurately papered Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune of insufficient quality to impress you, but now contains a substantial quantity of Shizu Kaneuji at $10k a pop. I beg you, please, open that drawer and shake it out to the bottom because I think almost everyone here would be happy to stand in line for the contents of this drawer. Now, it is entirely possible to get a Kaneuji that is all core steel and as a result is priced so low as $10k, but trying to generalize things to the point of saying that this is the market or even dealer price guideline for good Kaneuji or even mediocre Kaneuji by the rules of Kaneuji is really simple to prove if you want to prove it. Just get one and put it up for sale. You need to qualify your generalities you offer as truths otherwise rather than with the term "Hozon starts at", instead with "the worst possible example of XXX can be obtained at". This will decouple the proposed idea that Hozon is an inferior or entry cost blade, which it is not. Said Chogi example above was "only Hozon" and I have been offered a blade at 50 million yen a long time ago that was "only Hozon" and the fact that these were Hozon simply indicated that the blade was authentic. They underscore the bottom line of expectations as a guideline. They say nothing about the top end. So you cannot classify price ranges by papers. You can classify price ranges by smith and by blade quality though, because those are the causes of the price. At the end of the day the price is a factor of the quality of the blade and the reputation of the smith, and the attribution to a top level smith is a function of the style of the blade and the quality of the blade. It is inappropriate to classify a poorly made sword to a top level smith. Thus the prime mover in all things is the quality and the style of the blade at hand and those feed into all the other aspects which then at the end of the equation pumps out a price. Independent factors are history, provenance, etc. which make something desirable outside of the attributes inherent to the blade. It then comes back down to the drawer full of cheap Masamune and Kaneuji and how they obtain these attributions to top level smiths, which imply top level properties, which would normally imply as assessments to Juyo without major problems of condition factoring in. I still suggest that you have got yourself an absolutely willing market to take some problem Masamune and Kaneuji off of your hands, if you can buy the Masamunes at $60k then you have an easy 10% to make, I will pay you more than 10% profit, and if you buy all the $10k Kaneuji I am sure we can divvy them up on the board at $12k a pop. So possibly your self assessment as a member of the proletariat is because you are simply missing these wonderful business opportunities and instead pursuing muromachi mumei tanto at higher price ranges. So you are welcome to upgrade your class status as soon as you take advantage of the magic drawer. Absolutely there are blades that are Juyo that are in these price ranges, but again you are entering into the fallacy that because two blades are Juyo that they are equivalent, or that a blade that is Juyo is necessarily more expensive than one that is Hozon. That does not follow in either case, the only thing we can say is that making a blade Juyo offers an opinion that the blade is falling into a spectrum that has removed the lowest category of blades available by the school or maker, unless the bottom category for the school or maker is already Juyo. In which case it can occupy that bottom slot already. But a Juyo Sadamune and a Juyo Ko-Mihara are not equivalent by being Juyo and you cannot assign prices to either based on them being Juyo. You cannot say a Tokubetsu Juyo Mihara is more expensive than a Hozon Sadamune based on simply examining the papers. The attribution is far more important than the level of the paper, and the level of the paper only makes sense within the domain of the attribution of the item. So, a menuki attributed to Goto Yujo that is Juyo, the most important part of that assessment is the attribution to Yujo. Yujo is Juyo and Juyo is Yujo already, it's its own form of Juyo just to be attributed to him. That one also accompanies Juyo related properties is what makes it more expensive on the market, and that it passes Juyo is confirmation that it does possess those properties. But two informed buyers looking at the same unpapered Yujo already have it in their head about what those properties are and so ultimately the assessment as Juyo is meaningless to them. The passing of this kind of item to Hozon only serves to confirm what they believe and eliminate risk of an error. If one of those buyers is also one of the judges making the Hozon paper you can completely understand the secondary nature of the paper then. Once you have an uninformed buyer entering the equation now the papers take on a factor because the papers stand in for the uninformed buyer's incomplete knowledge. He can then hope or assume that the Juyo paper indicates what he believes and then there is room for discussion between him and the informed buyer. Juyo is itself still a category with a wide, wide range, since it only mentions something about the bottommost assessment and says nothing about the top. For example there is at least one Juyo Bunkazai blade (Kaneuji oddly enough) that is also Juyo Token but not Tokubetsu Juyo Token. If a buyer attempts to say that such a blade should be less expensive than a Tokuju example just based on the papers they are mistaken. Even if you take away the Jubun status, you are still left with a signed Kaneuji at Juyo. Nobody who knows anything can come to a conclusion that the correct assessment is that any particular Tokuju example should be more expensive based on it being Tokuju vs. a Juyo one. It doesn't even apply in the domain of a smith let alone between two smiths. In terms of access to "cheap" Juyo, I believe I sold a Juyo at the lowest price being $14k or maybe $12k. I recently declined to buy a Juyo blade at $10k. The fact that they are Juyo does not mean that they fall into any particular band. At $10k, you can look at the cost of papers, polish, habaki, shirasaya and you can in fact determine that the value of the blade alone now is zero since all of those other properties are commodities with known values. The closer you get to that absolute case of zero value for the blade, the closer you get to the real bottom line. Surely there are instances of swords that have negative value but in practice with a Juyo class blade it should not fall below zero. This illustrates why Juyo is not a useful data point in and of itself to discuss valuation of anything. Because the absolute bottom line conclusion is a sword with zero or negative value, you are actually not saying anything of any relevance whatsoever. For me, if I price something, I am pricing based on the sword. I am pricing based on my understanding of where the sword lies within the spectrum of work of the smith and its desirability. It can be Juyo "at Tokuju Price" which is as mentioned, a fallacy. Such a person is welcome to buy a Tokuju blade by a lesser smith and of lesser quality and less interesting style than the Juyo example under consideration and we can applaud them for their savvy expenditure of money based on the color of the paper rather than the example of the work at hand. I've tried to say to people before that those kinds of examples are "already Tokuju" regardless of where the paper falls in to better get the point across. When a seller has told me he wouldn't sell me a rusty blade because "it might pass Juyo as Yukimitsu" I simply responded with, "charge me your Juyo Yukimitsu price" then because I knew what I was looking at and what it was and I didn't really think it would end up as Yukimitsu (it did not) and it did end up as exactly what I thought it was. I am not worried about it not being papered or anything else if I know what it is. That is my money to risk of course and if I am wrong I take the hit. If I judge something like that thing to be able to qualify as Tokubetsu Juyo it's because I think the attributes of the sword are in keeping with that. The NBTHK may disagree with me and I may be wrong. In which case I can say try again but in the case they refuse several times I have to admit that we have a disagreement and the chance that I am right and they are wrong is smaller than them being right and me being wrong. So I've taken to giving people a guarantee that I back with my own money to indicate that this is my feeling and this is where the thing will go. So this way they don't have to use my feeling, if they do not trust their feeling, the guarantee is that an arbitrary judge will feel that way and they can rely on that assessment above mine and I will take the responsibility of being wrong. So far I am right about 80% of the time when I do this. So it's not perfect but it is better than a coin flip and it's being offered only on certain blades which means it is far, far better than a coin flip on any given blade chosen at random. That's what people should hope to hit or improve on if they can mentally assess something and know where it will land. The Chogi that passed Tokuju for me in the last session is a blade that I chased after for 8 years trying to buy. With no papers. I had no problem paying whatever price the seller wanted to sell to me at. I had no doubts about what it was or where it was going, all of that I knew would be confirmed. There is no way to say that blade should be cheaper without papers, or cheaper at Hozon vs. Tokubetsu Hozon or Tokubetsu Juyo. It is what it is. A perfect diamond is still a perfect diamond and when the papers for that diamond come out they are confirmation beyond doubt. In that sense it can elevate the value of the diamond to the general market because that provides information that is lacking to the general market and so removes risk. But it does not do anything to two perfectly informed buyers and sellers who can assess the diamond directly without the need of the papers as crutch. If they are both perfectly informed then one is being disingenuous to assert to the other that the price of the diamond should be less before a paper or after a paper because it's the information that's the critical part. The other way to make that assertion is then to not be perfectly informed in which case you can be sincere about it. To say I believe this to be true, however, I mistrust my judgement or that the judges will agree with me, in which case the risk expands the spectrum of possible prices and the papers have to arrive to bring the bottom end of the spectrum back up or else implode it by confirming the worst possible case. "Can you get burned" is not a useful statement of any sort. It's like saying "can you die in a car accident" and the answer is yes, you can. Any statement like that, like "can I go to outer space?" the answer to that is yes I can. I could get lucky and get picked at random because I submitted to join a commercial space flight or I could really try hard to become an astronaut. If the question is "Can I get bitten by a mosquito" the answer is the same: yes. Can you find a Masamune in a garage sale? Yes. What matters though is that you have to consider what is the likelihood of these things happening and why are they happening if the frequency of them happening is high. The fact that something is possible doesn't mean it is probable, and in fact this kind of phrase, "it is possible that..." is one of the famous propaganda techniques. It is possible that I will spontaneously combust before I finish writing this and it is possible that aliens are among us. Possibility does not tell you anything about probability other than that it is non zero. But in practice 0.000000000001 is close enough to zero that it is zero in the practical sense. If you keep entering the market and keep getting burned, whether that is the sword market, the stock market, or the crypto market, it indicates a failure to understand the basic principles involved. It indicates that you should try to understand them better. It means that if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and it results in bad results, than you need to change what you are doing. If you are burned in swords then you need to reassess how you are entering the sword market. I was a collector in various other fields and I applied what I learned from those fields to sword collecting because some things pass easily from domain to domain. For instance, I was a hobby jeweler and I would buy gemstones on ebay for my projects. I would say oh look at this lovely spinel. Well spinel is not quite as good as ruby but it's a nice, red, glittering stone. Just... not as desirable but it's still good. Well, the cut on this one is not so good but the price is really good so it's got high value. This major flaw in the table, well from this angle I think it's ok... and so on. Finding an excuse for the item at every level and I would buy myself a $400 spinel. I still have that $400 spinel. I cannot ever sell it. The reason why is that there are ten billion other problematic spinels just like it on eBay and they are being loaded onto eBay in vast quantities by companies of ill repute (possibly man made) and certainly if your choice is to find something filled with problems then you have a lot of things to choose from. Now I bought that $400 spinel thinking well, low risk, doesn't cost much, no problem right? Wrong. The problem is in the mentality that this is actually reducing risk. It's not. If I look at the collection in terms of total amount spent, I could say have bought one paraiba tourmaline or a fancy colored diamond or something quite special. Or, I could spread all that money over these $400 flawed spinels. I chose the latter. I still have them. No way to sell them. No way to go to the effort, if I tried to sell them all maybe I'd get the notice of people enough to get 25% sold and I'd be going to the effort of selling 100% of them and the only argument I could ever make with my little teardrop in the ocean of spinels was on price. So, the only way out of the danger zone is by setting yourself on fire. With a $400 gemstone it means probably selling it at $25 or something. People just won't care enough and the commercial bulk dealers can just keep dumping quantity onto the market, everything is automated, they have no cost and no care in the listing and the items are of questionable quality but nobody knows the difference. In the end it's not worth it to even try. I will instead give them to my nieces. Now if instead I did buy that paraiba tourmaline I have to just sell that one. That's my total effort. The same amount of money is at risk but by spreading it over junk I increased the chance of complete wipeout. I certainly increased the effort level. If I got something held precious by everyone in the community, not just the bottom part, I no longer have the problem of trying to catch someone's attention by offering up my absolute mediocrity into a sea of mediocrity. The question becomes, who is willing to afford it. And, within the spectrum of paraiba tourmaline... did I buy the *** worst possible example ***. So did I again price myself above the bottom of the market, but not get something significant enough to catch the interest of those who can afford everything? I could get myself into the danger zone. I didn't go down that path but I understood that path from these cheap gemstones that are essentially valueless and commodities. From this sense I look at the collector who has collected 100 tsuba of $300 value and I think of what a mess that is and how do you even sell that off. You put them all on a table and people will come by and cherry pick the top half and the bottom half you will be left with for years to forever. That is like my flawed spinels. So in this sense it is far, far better to take the $30,000 one spent on 100 tsuba, it's the same amount of money, that you can redirect into a Natsuo if you are lucky and patient you will get one. Nobody will ever refrain from telling you that Natsuo is no good. Natsuo may not appeal to the tastes of all buyers but everyone will vouch for the talent involved. You have insulated yourself by going into a blue chip item. And when time comes to sell, you can choose how fast or how slow you want to be out, and at what price. If you bought the right one you can be out at double your money or more. This market evolves, as more participants enter and the number of Natsuo cannot increase but can only decrease, the numbers are all on your side. Can you get burned on a Natsuo? Yes you can get burned on anything but it's about what the probabilities are not on whether or not it is possible, like aliens being possible but not probable to be around us. There are Natsuo out there I passed over at a price that now I wish I could go back and get, and those same ones have entered the retail market at more than double the price at which I had the opportunity. And, Natsuo unlike a stock is not going to ever go to zero. There is of course no guarantee you will get everything back but based on your timeframe you are better off sticking to great artworks if you are an art collector. In the end, it's an art market. I have my own money in the stock market and the art market and I learned with my spinels and penny stocks that quality is a quality that is important. Where to begin with this.... the fallacy of false equivalence or the straw man picked at random... I think that what you did here was to grab a dealer at random, put a noose around their neck, string them up, and then stick a yari through them and then claim this is some kind of argument. It's a straw man, one that is unfair to him in particular, as he is a reliable and kind guy who absolutely does his best for all of his clients. I count the man as a friend and so do many in the community and I haven't ever heard anyone say anything bad about him, but really this is a weird statement to break out at this point. Amongst your failed arguments this one ranks highly. There is this ongoing theme of false equivalence in things that you say, like where two Juyo need to be assessed against each other with the most critical aspect being that they are both Juyo. Or in this case, that since these swords are both Ichimonji in your example that somehow they are equivalent and it is unfair to criticize the cheaper one and you are with your chosen pillory of a Ginza dealer implying in true propaganda style that the 2M yen Ichimonji must be superior to the 3-6M yen one which is padded up based on the Ginza dealer's expenses. In reality the swords are priced based on the sword. It's a point that continually slips as you get into these things about Juyo or two things being Ichimonji. If you have a gold coin for sale, and I have a gold coin for sale, my gold coin is not going to be priced higher than yours based on me being in Ginza. Your profit will actually be larger than mine if you can sell yours and you do not have my expenses. But, I don't get more for it than you do. The market decides what we get for it. I have had people tell me in the past, go find me an Ichimonji, I want one in great state of preservation, flamboyant hamon, wide mihaba, ikubi kissaki, and strong utsuri and nice jigane. Mumei is ok. But don't worry about it being Juyo. That statement again comes down to this fundamental misunderstanding that the paper is going to drive the price on such a piece. The attributes they have described are in keeping with assessing such a blade to Tokubetsu Juyo. They are obvious on its face to anyone who understands what they are looking at. The statement to "don't worry about it being Juyo" is a way of saying "I want it really cheap" because they have misunderstood the factors that drive the price. I responded to this with, "I won't worry about it being Juyo because it will be Kokuho." The guy of course did not like my joke very much and he chose to never speak to me again but I digress. This fundamental misunderstanding and false equivalence between two Ichimonji because they are Ichimonji or two Juyo because they are Juyo or two Juyo Ichimonji because they are both Juyo Ichimonji glosses over almost all of the attributes that make something desirable. In the end the guy who has an Ichimonji for sale is going to price it to the market, as long as he is rational, self interested, and has access to information. So will you. If you go and find one of these magic drawer Masamune at $60k that finally impress you, you can buy that and what will you sell it for? Are you going to take a 10% commission? Sell it to the next guy at $66k? No you will not. I assume you are a rational person with access to information. That you do not buy these Masamune that have reliable papers ... makes me question some of this but if I were to completely assume that, would you do this? The answer is: NO. Any more than you would buy a lottery ticket that wins $100 million dollars and then sell it for a 10% markup over the price that you paid to buy the lottery ticket. You would float that lottery ticket at the market price. You wouldn't sell a gold coin that you found on the street laying there, to the next person, for free if you are running a gold coin business. You might do it as a gift, but you would not give it away if you're running your business on that model to randos who walk in the door because you like the cut of their jib. You might cut a discount for your best customer but you are still self interested and motivated to take care of your own interests and selling to your best customer at a discount gives you an increased chance of selling more to them down the road. That is relationship management 101. But you don't sell your gold coin to a random for free because you found it for free. So the magic drawer filled with reliable Masamune that you will not touch, this has a huge market far above the price that you mentioned. You are not taking advantage of that market which means you are not self interested, and I would observe what you do and say you are as self interested as any normal human being among us is. So that just leaves behind not having the capital to buy them (just connect me with them and I'll pay you 10% so I can use my capital) or that they don't exist. Because the market is there and instead you are marketing Muromachi Sue-Hosho at higher prices than what you claim you can acquire Kamakura or Nanbokucho Shizu Kaneuji. In which case it just looks like an inability to pick your inventory items to me. Or ... whatever someone can drive their own conclusion. The point being: you are not giving any free lunches on your Sue-Hosho and you won't on a Masamune either. Nor would anyone. They will float for what the market will take. With that point made ad nauseum I can look back at your 2M yen Ichimonji and say the most likely reason for that price is not because that dealer is nice, or stupid, or has lower costs... it is only because this is what the market will bear for that particular sword. Regardless of it being Ichimonji it implies a strong chance of inferior qualities associated with that blade. Or else the rational, self interested, smart and knowledgeable person running a sword business would float it where the market will support it. Regardless of their expenses and their costs. If it is an ass kicking Ichimonji with flames bursting off of it it will receive an ass kicking Ichimonji with flames bursting off it price. If it is a neutered sad depressed specimen of something that used to be wonderful a long time ago and is genuine, but has one foot in the grave now, that's the price it will take. If someone cannot tell the two apart, it comes back to the issue of silver and gold coins having the same intrinsic value to someone without knowledge because they are both shiny metal. Nobody should be conflating the two. The constant conflation based on one attribute such as the name of the school between all such blades attributed to that school, or between all examples at a level of paper, only indicates an inability to assess any difference between the individual items especially when the papers are taken away though they can be dramatically different. So given all variables, probably a 6M yen Ichimonji is a better sword than a 2M yen Ichimonji. The person who wants to tell you they are the same is the vendor of the 2M yen Ichimonji. Also he would sell it for 6M if he could but he can't, that's why it's 2M yen and that's why he's telling you that they are the same sword you're just coughing up money for Ginza rent because it won't sell based on what it is. In all it's a useless example of anything and is just mud in the water. I really do suggest grabbing those Kaneuji though and the Masamune, you're sitting on a real gold mine not a silver mine.
  5. I'll also say, I don't win when I tell someone that the pricing scheme and preciousness of a Nobuhide is different based on the presence or lack of presence of fine horimono. I don't have either to sell anyone. I would love to sell those with the great horimono. 20 years I have never had one. I will never have one. The reason for that is that they are simply too expensive in the Japanese market to procure, document, and then sell. They are already priced where Japanese buyers will support the market and foreigners will not. Foreigners will go for the 75 cm one with no horimono in the belief that they are getting one discounted and not factoring in the horimono. Very few will instead get the 63 cm one with the best horimono and pay the premium price for it. I don't get anything by telling people that there is hazard in buying a $10,000 Masamune with green papers. That buyer is not going to come to me or someone like me for a legitimate one because they won't be in the market for a legitimate one. The guy who is going to buy that one off of Yahoo auctions will not be buying a Tokubetsu Juyo Kanemitsu or Shizu or anything like this from me. I don't save myself anything by trying to inform people on this. I get rocks thrown at me for doing so by the cottage industry in selling dreams to those who want to believe that these have the legitimacy that people want to believe that they do. Every time I say it, I am worried and I have to always say that sometimes yes a green papered anything will end up being OK but the odds are against you and by mathematics they will only get worse every time a diamond is pulled from the mud and promoted to Tokubetsu Hozon, it just leaves behind a greater and thicker concentration of mud. I get nothing but smears for trying to at least tell people and warn them to not get burned by these things. I'm not a seller of shinto in mass quantities and I have nothing but praise for a great work of Nobuhide or Tadatsuna or Sadakazu with one of these great horimono. If I can get them I will but generally I can't for the reasons stated. All I am doing is actually supporting the market for those who *do* have them and can sell them and provide them by vouching for their importance and I don't completely dismiss one without, but when you do buy one without you are missing a great deal of the point of why a Nobuhide or Tadatsuna is held in high esteem. If you're going to buy a muscle car you should get one with a high powered engine or you miss the point of having a muscle car. If you buy a bottle of champagne that's been open for a week you miss the point of buying a bottle of champagne if you buy a Kobe beef steak you miss the point to get it well done. Even if you like it well done with ketchup on it, it's missing the point and in fact you need some education if you think that's how to have it. There may still be some merit in all of these things, which is what sustains the value that they have, but they are not to be conflated with each other or held as equivalent. I get nothing from pointing that out. People get things by telling others that silver and gold are both shiny metal so they are the same.
  6. Lol funny. It's kind of the street hucker's go-to move when they're holding out the Rolex in the back alley. Today's your lucky day we have gold for the price of silver here so why go anywhere else? I'd suggest though that you're answering a question with a direct ad hominem and not contributing anything toward bringing the idea to its knees if you disagree with it as you seem to. I would pose the question to you: In the case of an artist famous for his horimono, given two works A and B which are otherwise identical, though B has the addition of a first class horimono by said artist, why would they be held up as equivalently precious examples of his handicraft? If an artist is famous for a particular technique, an excellent example of that technique that makes him famous, will always carry a premium both in value and in interest among knowledgeable collectors. Juyo and Tokubetsu Juyo track this idea. But a huckster exists by promoting the idea that all of this is equivalent because that's what creates arbitrage opportunities for the huckster. This is why the green paper idea won't die in the west. Because there is a community that profits on this kind of confusion. Japanese dealers dismiss these concepts because they are practical and pragmatic and won't try to promote to an informed buyer that green papers are reliable. They similarly will not mix up concepts like Sue-Hosho with Hosho or so on. But if you can conflate these ideas in someone's mind that's what lets you profit. So you tell the buyer that silver is equivalent to gold, and today they are lucky because you're selling silver which is really gold at the price of silver, and they will be smart then to buy the silver. Now silver on its own has its own merits: it's not useless and it's not valueless. But if you promote the idea of conflating the two, then you take advantage of the conflation of ideas by getting the buyer to buy on the idea that they're placing smart money by buying at a discount. So these green papered junkers in Japan that go through the dealing community precisely as this, as junk, are those that get scooped up by western dealers and promoted as papered authentic and reliable masterworks. Those that want to shoot the idea down usually turn to this kind of ad hominem above as their go-to form of persuasion and to continue telling the story that Santa Claus is real. There is always apetite among people to believe this because they want to believe that they will beat the market. This is again, never to say that there are no works among green papered blades that are without merit or won't be promoted to a modern paper. But the idea that it's reliable and problem free and that you should always hope and be positive when you see these things is what the huckster desires to promote in order to keep the market for them alive. It's all about whatever idea you want to carve into the buyer's mind, and those that are concentrating on value, you want to show them that this is the doorway to value. The mint condition 1965 Ferrari Daytona with all original and matching serials then is the same as one that has been slapped together out of spare parts bins, and so the smart buyer should go for the spare part bin item. Or the antique firearm that has modern milled replacement parts is just the same as the one that is all original... or the cracked porcelain is almost as valuable as the same one that is in perfect condition. Or this rare coin with a bit of wear is the same as the one that looks like it came from the mint. Even fractional changes in those things cause great devaluation and increase disinterest among collectors. It doesn't make them bad or valueless but it makes them less precious. If you want a Tadatsuna or a Nobuhide with top flight qualities and you add excellent original horimono to that package, the value and the interest will always go up. That is *specifically the reason* why con artists and hucksters have through history added fake horimono to those works. Exactly because people are more interested in them with the horimono. Exactly because the value is higher with the horimono. This is exactly why good advice tells people to be careful of fake horimono. This is exactly why the smiths added "hori dou saku" to their works, to prove and attest that they themselves made the horimono. Proposing that this is a bad idea without merit because you don't like someone is disingenuous and in fact it's harmful and misleading to people and at the very, very minimum if you want to float that kind of transparently silly claim you should always add a slight bit of support to what you have to say. Otherwise there's only two alternatives, one of which is hucksterism which purposefully misleads people and the other of which is a failure to understand the topic and so spreads disinformation by way of ignorance. These smiths are not just swordsmiths: they are horimono artists and to dismiss the horimono as unimportant, is just one of those two ideas above. Similarly you cannot praise a work with excellent horimono and poor manufacture, but I don't think those really exist because they won't go to the considerable extra effort to make a "one way ticket" of carving a horimono that will kill the blade if one mistake is made. Also you may let Gassan Sadatoshi know that his works featuring excellent horimono are of no particular added interest in the community nor should he charge much more for them than one without, which he does, because you have stated that everything is the same. I'll add at the end of this as well that there are some collectors who do make a living by scrounging through the junk drawers and occasionally find gold. When they hit gold then it proves to them that the method is reliable. I have looked at some of these collections, in which the vast majority was fake and had something less than a 1 in 20 hit rate of authenticity and it's disheartening. Some of it is purposeful, because they are fed this stream of garbage by a junk dealer and every now and then the dealer inserts a nugget of gold. That hit is what sustains the collector because they both love the thrill and risk involved in discovery and that positive hit is confirmation. When they get confirmed by the NBTHK they hold it out as a victory and proof of the method because this great agency has told them that they decided correctly. On the other 19 out of 20 that are pure losses, they wave their hands and say, "What does the NBTHK know? How can they make so many mistakes?" They never see that the two ideas are mutually exclusive that they cannot both dismiss the expertise of the judges while simultaneously basking in their confirmation that one time out of 20 that they hit. Such a collection is a huge misplaced expenditure of money. The one hit does not make up for the 19 mistakes. So this is not about collecting or about art or anything of the sort, it's about the fun of the roulette wheel or fun of blackjack or fun of prospecting for gold. It's gambling and gambling has its own merits and benefits but usually the house wins. You can do the same with penny stocks, you can buy them all day long for years and 1 time out of so often you will hit and win huge, get your 10 or 20 or 100 bagger. But the vast majority of penny stocks just expire as dead companies and no value. You can wave your finger at the person who bought the boring blue chip expensive stocks all along and promote the idea of gambling or that penny stocks are a wise investment choice. At the end of the day the person with the boring porfolio always did well. They didn't beat the one gambler out of 100 that sold their house and dumped it all into GME one year ago, but they didn't take the risk either of losing everything so as a whole, that group, made great decisions and gets to sleep at night and doesn't have to micro manage their assets. Anyone who invested for a long time knows the pain that one bad call on a high risk stock that goes to zero neutralizes 10 good decisions on boring, solid, reliable investment decisions. There is a parallel in art and collectibles always. The Honus Wagner card that raised eyebrows for being the first over one million dollars is now 4 million or so. It's a blue chip among baseball cards. You would have been better off speculating if you made all the right decisions on day one about rookie cards as they came out, but mostly people don't do that. But if you bought the best one, you never did badly and you also got to relax in the idea that you have the best one. Such is a Nobuhide of first class manufacture plus first class horimono. It's the blue chip among the smith's works and anything that detracts from *any* aspect of the smiths' repertoire causes a degree of disinterest and that degree of disinterest reflects directly in the value. And so the worn out coin that a dealer tells you is as good as mint one, or the shiny rolex on the street corner that they're going to tell you is just the same and also tells time the same way. They are not equivalent even if they appear to be equivalent to the uneducated eye. In the end, these claims you make of equivalence between a work with top class horimono and one without, or say of a drawer full of reliably papered Masamune at Tokubetsu Hozon that do not impress you, these are very, very, very simple claims to substantiate without having to rely on sophistry. You simply can produce the examples in question. Please find and sell a work of Nobuhide with high class horimono for 2.5 million yen, or to hold your nose at the unimpressive Masamune at $60k, buy those and put them on the market at these prices for those of us who want them, to buy them. I will buy them from you, any day of the week. I am waiting here with my money in hand, holding it out, and waiting for my great horimono Nobuhide and my unimpressive Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune. Please endure the assault on your senses by such needless unimportance as a great horimono by a great horimono artist or a Soshu work so unimpressive as both to qualify legitimately as Masamune and yet not possess the qualities of being able to pass Juyo. I will buy from you, I am absolutely serious. I will buy a great sword from the ghost of Hitler if he will provide it to me, I will buy from the sensei of Facebook if he has a great sword to sell. I will buy from you or anyone, I do not care because I am absolutely a pragmatist and I don't conflate the work or its greatness with my personal feelings about the person providing it. I would also advise my customers to buy from my arch enemies who hold the only thing important in their lives to hold a 15 year old grudge to try to attack me personally. I will say go straight to them and buy the masterpieces if you can get them. And so will I. As recently as two weeks ago I told a customer on this board to withold payment due to me for an existing purchase, because another dealer presented to them a very nice item for acquisition that will fit in his collection. Others can testify as well that I have recommended blades for sale by other people. All I care about is greatness. Not conflating green papers with reliable things, and not telling someone that there is no significant difference in appreciation of works of a great horimono artist regardless of the presence of said horimono. Some of these ideas, if you proposed them in the company of top flight dealers in Japan, that the horimono is not an important component of these smith's works that are famous for horimono, or that Masamune are a dime a dozen with Tokubetsu Hozon papers laying around in quantity, nobody would challenge you on it. They would just look at you and if you were viewing such a work with great horimono they would just quietly put it away and bring you one with none. Afterwards they would tell jokes among friends. The same way that they do when a beginner complains about a kitae ware on a Heian blade and they put it away and bring them a Shinsakuto. They are pragmatic. They will not rattle your cage or disabuse you of these notions unless they care about you. And they primarily want to sell. Unless you are blessed with a great relationship with some of those guys you will just be allowed to believe what you want to believe. Anyway I want you to just bring these to market. Find it if it really exists. Post it here for sale and I'm ready to buy either these Masamune and I will take my chance on your tastes being equivalent to mine or not. I will buy all Nobuhide I can get with great horimono by the smith provided they are authentic in the 2.5-2.8 million yen range that you can find the katana without. I will also accept Mitsutada or Go. I'm flexible. Just don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining with these conflated ideas. Mumei Sue-Bizen is not the same as Kamakura Bizen though they are both Bizen, Tokubetsu Kicho is not the same as Tokubetsu Juyo though they both say Tokubetsu and Nobuhide without horimono is not the same as one with though they are both by the same maker.
  7. When the NBTHK accepts something they issue a notice that tells you it was accepted and what level it is. That is a placeholder until the papers are published. Until the paper is shown, or that receipt is shown, the only text I see on this site is that "Hozon paper will be issued later." So, let's not be blaming the NBTHK when this dealer has made mistakes on their site from copy/pasting old listings to quick start a new listing (I reuse my research articles too), and there is a possibility of miscommunication. Without seeing either proof of passing or the paper itself, I'd withhold judgment and wait and see. They clearly put in a picture of an NBTHK envelope at the bottom of the listing that has nothing to do with this listing since the paper is not issued yet (and, not issued yet may be because it's not even been applied for yet, they could have gotten the sword, banged it out at warp speed like they usually do and threw it in the papering queue assuming it would pass). Do note that if you buy a sword as a dealer and wait for the papers to be issued, or at least the proof, you go through a four or five month cycle in which you can't sell the sword. In this case there is no doubt the sword is genuine so I would speculate that they just processed it and queued it and assumed the papers will come. But who knows.
  8. Also that "Masamune" from my site, I posted it to the board in this thread as reference: Nice sword but Shinto.
  9. Where do we start to camp out for the $60k Masamune? Can the line start after me? This line about there being $60k Hozon, Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune that will lose their status, I think is begging to see some tangible examples. As for handling many of them, I don't know where you are going that you can poke around in a drawer full of inappropriately papered Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune. Here is why you cannot price such a thing at $60k: 1. if it has so many issues and is so full of doubt, it is not worth $60k and nobody is likely to buy it 2. if it is not with that doubt, it will not be priced at $60k or if it were, that would last for a few picoseconds until someone picks it up and resells it at a price the market supports Consider a simple gold coin. If it is a real one ounce gold coin and you put it on ebay at $200 it will be gone in that same picosecond, to be sold for the price that gold fetches in the market every day and the lucky person will have themselves a profit. If it looks like it is made of copper rather than gold (i.e. so full of doubt) then nobody will pay $200 for it. We see this of course every day with the green papered Masamune that are constantly on Yahoo auctions. The sellers are not stupid, so they float them at zero so the speculators will bid to whatever the price of speculation will drive them. Or, they will price them at the price the market will pay for a Masamune. To price them at 20% of the price of a real Masamune is literally "neither here nor there." It is low enough to cause suspicion and it is high enough to cause suspicion. It is so low that the speculators will take pause. It is so high that the speculators will take pause. It is so low that the legitimate collectors will take pause. It is so high that the legitimate collectors will take pause. The market is not necessarily rational but it sure is very efficient. If you are encountering "many" of these by your own words, and were not impressed, you are implying that the NBTHK is cranking out Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune with great frequency. It's like saying you went into someone's house and saw "many" cockroaches. If you saw one only, it implies the existence of a good number you can't see. If you saw a good number, then there are many. If you saw many then there are a very large number. If there is a very large number, or even if there are many, then others of us will also be encountering them in person or online. Japanese well understand that green papers are garbage and yet there is still some kind of a speculation market on Yahoo auctions for green papered "Masamune". A modern Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune one can buy for $60k regardless of the impression level a foreigner may have for the blade, will not matter because of market efficiency. These items will be snatched up and find their way to major auctioneers or to Yahoo auctions at the bare minimum. If nobody has seen any except for one person who claims to have seen many, then there is some difficulty in explaining this phenomenon if we are to take it at face value. Because honestly there are enough low end dealers that would be able to lay their hands on those and turn them over for big prices on Yahoo auctions that they would simply appear there. Yet they don't. The idea that rather instead they are laying around in drawers inactive in the market, at low prices that would be blown through on an auction site, is far fetched. Everyone would speculate on such pieces and believe them to be easy Juyo. We have seen already on Sotheby's a Tokubetsu Hozon Norishige fetch more than this likely with this kind of speculation. Should such a "Masamune-prime" exist, it would have as well to have so many attestations and historical reasons to be a Masamune that it could go to Tokubetsu Hozon and yet, be so, so very wrong that it cannot approach the standards for Juyo, that again, it would be something that would fail to have any value. As you increase the level of the smith involved you increase the stakes dramatically. The higher you stake that claim on day one, the less room you give yourself to maneuver later. If the NBTHK were in the habit of tossing around Hozon for fake Masamune like used kleenex, the damage it causes to the organization as a whole is substantial. You are entering fraud lawsuit areas that you don't enter when you mix up Bungo Bingo Bongo. There is no point to stick your neck out at Hozon and Tokubetsu Hozon for Masamune when there is a great chance you will get your head cut off at Juyo. This is instead where you stick your neck out as den Yukimitsu and then give yourself another chance to reconsider at Juyo with more people and more attention. There are so very few reasons to paper something to Tokubetsu Hozon as Masamune that cannot go higher, you can count them on one hand. Those are that the condition is so very poor there is no chance, but the blade is legitimate. In which case, someone with knowledge should still find areas in it to be impressed, but to simply feel sad that the blade is worn away; or that the blade is retempered, and in which case the blade is going to have to have status as a famous old piece or else it will lack the exact dimension necessary in which to pass as Masamune (the best quality nie); or that the attribution is so very, very unreliable that the work cannot even classify as one of the better Soshu smiths for which there may be major to minor overlap with Masamune (in which case it does not have the standing to get to Hozon as Masamune, but it will simply be denied if under kinzogan or papered to whatever it is thought to be regardless of stacks of old paper). There is only a major disaster for all parties involved in generating drawers full of Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune that cannot impress a foreigner and do not have the capability to pass Juyo. Furthermore, there just lacks a reason for this to happen other than offering up that the people doing building such a situation are completely without credibility. I point you to an alternative to explain the phenomenon you have noted, if indeed it is real as nobody else has testified to it. That is in this same thread you have maligned the reputation of Honami Kochu and held his papers to be without merit, failing to impress you and so easily faked that they are indistinguishable from the real thing. A drawer full of $60k Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune that are not impressive in the least has such a simple easy explanation attached to it and Occam's razor applies. I've written elsewhere the slow pace at which consideration for Masamune is given. I have not, myself, encountered these large quantities of inexpensive and unimpressive yet faithfully papered Masamune in all of my experience in Japan nor has anyone offered up any links to them in Yahoo auctions in the last 25 years that I recall. I am aware of very, very tired Masamune that are correctly executed and still pass Juyo. There are those that pass Juyo with notes in the setsumei about how the attribution has doubts and even with that the market price on such things are quite high. It is very easy to write "to kinzogan mei ga aru" on papers, or to do den Yukimitsu at Tokubetsu Hozon so you can change that to Masamune and explain in detail at Juyo because it is still, outside of the Masamune attribution, a sword with Juyo features that can stand as such on its own. And if it doesn't, then no reason to do this outside of not knowing your material. I have had in my hands famous pieces from the Kyoho Meibutsucho, and Juyo and Tokuju, Juyo Bunkazai Masamune, and those with no papers and no reputation but still exhibiting enough attributes that I would say Masamune and try to pay a lot for them. I have been able to buy three legitimate ones in my life and I had opportunities to buy unpapered ones at high prices... in such cases I turned one down out of being gutless and saw it after this go all the way to Tokubetsu Juyo. I wish to say I could have handled a Kokuho one, but I have not, I have only had one Kokuho in my hands and it was not a Masamune. But many times with Juyo Bunkazai up to Sadamune and Masamune and so forth from daimyo families and Hideyoshi's personal item that went to Ieyasu and various shoguns beloved pieces. But, I have not encountered a drawer full of Tokubetsu Hozon Masamune that failed to impress me to date. If they are legitimately papered, the line starts after me please at $60k and I will take my chances with any particular foreigner not being impressed. Lastly the proof of NBTHK papers it to look up the serial numbers. Also, the proof of an old Honami Kochu paper can often be verified by looking at the records of collections from whence it came. The best proof though is the eyeball test. Knowing what you are looking at substantiates the paper more than the paper should be used to substantiate the thing you are looking at. If you are routinely looking at junk swords of the highest attribution possible without the capability of passing Juyo you are probably in some kind of strange, uncharted waters that are dangerous to be in.
  10. Those were some pretty good answers. But then some kind of degenerated into the classic overthinking that can happen with kantei. Sucks when you were right or close then convince yourself that it's something else. Sometimes the gut feeling is the best one because it's being processed at a lower part of your brain, you feel that it looks like something and then you start going over too many checklists in your head and as mentioned, overthink. I never sold this sword, just worked on the photos. I had a chance to see it when Chris bought it from someone else. The Sadamune answers are very interesting to me because to me the hamon looks a lot like Takagi Sadamune. Also the Go and Tametsugu answers are interesting, because of the boshi... Go generally will not have an o-kissaki. So going to Tametsugu from there is not too bad. Less known is Tachibana Yoshizane ... another son/student of Go but nothing survived and so is a "really bad answer" for kantei. But when I look at a blade like this makes me think about a smith like that with lost work. Hata Nagayoshi, on the hada and nie is an interesting call but there are no mumei assigned to him, just 3 Norishige-like tanto with signatures. Esshu Kuniyuki makes this kind of standing out hada too. The Sa Sadayoshi call though if you look at the other Sadayoshi, is very good and relevant. There are a lot of O-kissaki blades with bright nie and vivid hada in the group of Samonji students and they are all very highly ranked. Here is another and you can see the similarities in hamon structure and blade shape. And if you have seen something like the following you can go right into the Sa group. I would have said Takagi Sadamune as my answer if I didn't know what it was already. But when you look at the other examples the rationale is very clear as to the attribution.
  11. I have a client who's reported a sword he's bought from me gone missing. I don't know the facts yet of what happened, just what was told to me. I recommended to call the police and they have been notified and asked to investigate and are apparently looking into it. This is in Virginia. So to avoid any speculation at this point, I just wanted to make a sword missing report in case anyone encounters it. When there is something tangible to share or if it turns up I'll update this. It's the Tsunbo Nagatsuna https://yuhindo.com/tsunbo-nagatsuna-katana/ from my site. The papers are missing, the sword, an evaluation sheet, and one of the custom care kits.
  12. I don't usually handle submissions, unless it's something special that I'm interested in seeing how it works out (i.e. you found a Kiyomaro) or it's something I sold and the owner is looking to upgrade. I do those for no charge. Otherwise I point people to Bob Benson or someone else specializing in it, as it's a lot of paperwork and have to constantly be touching base with the customer and with the handler in Japan... so usually someone doing agent work like that needs to do it in bulk in order to justify the time.
  13. They spoke with the buyer several times but he refuses to consider selling me the shirasaya. The seller also refused to sell it to me before the auction. Very frustrating. Anyway there will be some karmic biteback I am sure. If anyone ever encounters this sword please let me know. The sword is pretty big (the "Norishige") and is much too big to fit in my shirasaya.
  14. This is an extract from "Meito -or- What Makes a Masterpiece?" by Nobuo Ogasawara, Retired head conservator of the National Museum, Tokyo and is I think fundamental to understanding attributions. A lot of what he had to say to me was enlightening when I first read this and helped me understand and is interwoven with a lot of my comments that I make about quality and attributions including those above. This entire article is good but I'll just take some highlights so I don't have to type the whole thing in. .... Depending on who evaluates unsigned swords, a Masamune may be attributed to his son Sadamune, or a Kanemitsu to his pupil Tomomitsu. Differences of judgment are acceptable to a certain extent, but it is evidently wrong if one evaluates a Hizen Tadayoshi from the 17th century as Rai Kunimitsu from the Kamakura period at the end of the 14th century. Deliberately wrong judgments are a criminal matter, but even if it is not deliberate, anyone who gives an attribution to Kanemitsu when the work is by a pupil such as Tomomitsu or Hidemitsu will gradually lose all authority. [Darcy note: he first talks about a Masamune to Sadamune (i.e. conservative) ... a Kanemitsu to Tomomitsu (i.e. conservative)... the last sentence notes Tomomitsu or Hidemitsu to Kanemitsu which is then an inflated or incorrect judgement... so it is OK to issue a conservative judgment in the right ballpark but it is not OK to take an inferior work and assign it to a high level maker, this indicates an inability to understand the quality and so ends up with a loss of authority] We should consider the principles of Meito. Both masterpieces and inferior blades have always existed, and it is perhaps also not surprising if a single swordsmith may have been both successful and unsuccessful. In the course of the centuries many swords have been destroyed or lost. I think it amazing that swords have survived at all, considering their primary use as weapons, and their raw material is iron which can end up as a lump of rust. We must credit the Japanese at this point with the sense of beauty which impelled them to take such good care of their swords. ... One should not however confuse variation with failure. When Soshu Masamune makes nie-kuzure this is intentional, but if nie-kuzure appear as a result of failures of control during tempering, then the blade can never be good. ... There are also swords which do not attract us at all, even if the style is typical of its time and even if the jitetsu or hamon lack obvious flaws. For example a mass produced kazu-uchi-mono blade may just as plausibly be assigned to Bizen, Bungo Takada, Kai Mihara, Uda, or some other school, because the sword is of inferior quality. ... Having realized the qualities and attractiveness of the sword, it is natural to wish to own some. The most inconvenient thing about this, I think you will agree, is of a financial nature. If we think only about economics in this way we shall end up getting cheap swords which may easily be disposed of when necessary. This is perhaps understandable, but the true collector learns to transcend faincial limitations. We collect swords nowadays because we appreciate them as art objects. We do not collect them because of their excellence as weapons. Nevertheless the essence of the sword is its effectiveness as a weapon and its superiority as a weapon in expressed in the beauty of its sugata, in the brightness of its jihada, and the beauty of its hamon. ... As I have said, the Japanese Sword may be considered as a work of art, and an object of contemplation. By contrast, I have also said that the Japanese sword is a weapon, to which one could entrust one's life. The sword is both of these things. ... Once upon a time there was a rich merchant named Takeda Kizaemon. He was a great devotee of the Tea Ceremony., but he ran into difficulties and lost all his wealth, ending up as a groom in [the] stables. But, he retained his favorite Tea Bowl which he kept in a bag around his neck until the day he died. This bowl still exists and is called "Kizaemon Ido." When I was young, my Sensei showed me a sayagaki. The inscription said enigmatically: "Even if you were standing at the edge of the road..." He asked whether I understood it. I had to say that I did not. he explained that "to stand at the egde of the road" means you have become like a beggar. Even if the owner were to become a beggar, he would never part from this sword. The feeling for a Meito exists only inside us, and has really nothing to do with the works of famous swordsmiths or expensive swords. However, you must have the knowledge to understand and appreciate it. The sense or feeling attached to the swords is very important. This is the secret when you are collecting Meito.
  15. In the case of this blade it passed within 5 years so the same people were in charge. There is some misunderstanding above of the process. If you go and submit something that has existing papers yes they can find it and yes they do check. Knowing the blade's past history is important, especially with mumei blades, as the historical attributions provide a base from which to make current and future attributions. There were a lot more available to work with 300 years ago than now. So of course you want to have supporting documentation and to consider the history, especially if it's a judge like Honami Kochu. In the case of an overturned attribution, one would HOPE that it would happen. The idea that the NBTHK is a monolithic AI that popped into existence 60 years ago fully formed with no hope or need of change is flawed. It's composed of people and those people both improve their education as time goes on and more information and history will always come out. There is another fundamental misunderstanding about papers and attributions which I've talked about before, which is sourced in some Japanese scholarship, which is as the quality degrades the judgments can slide more and more sideways lacking any distinguishing characteristics. There is a Yoshimichi thread posted here and the blade is very characteristic so there is no other possible attribution if this was mumei, only whether or not it's genuine (I think it's ok). As you slide down the quality scale and erase characteristic features (both together) it is hoping for something unrealistic, that everyone will agree and assess the blade identically on eyeballing it. So if you have junk, you will basically get attributed to junk and the point is that which junk it is becomes neither meaningful nor possible to determine. Now on the higher end of things, a blade such as this Enju in question sometimes has some additional information that isn't shown on the NBTHK paper. It can have an old origami, it can have a sayagaki by Dr. Honma, and whenever it passed for whatever reason a conservative judgment was issued. I have seen Dr. Honma's sayagaki to Awataguchi Hisakuni and the NBTHK only accepted the blade as Awataguchi and nothing more. The blade was Juyo as Awatguchi Kunimitsu. So you have some span of disagreement here being sorted out, where it was Juyo at the time Dr. Honma was in charge and only settled as Kunimitsu then "downgraded" to a school attribution. Dr. Honma presiding over both sessions. So you can sit back and wring your hands over it or understand that you have a basic disagreement and the blade was not "downgraded" by changing it to Awataguchi school. It's done only to broaden the attribution to resolve disagreements. There is a mumei tanto attributed to Shintogo Kunihiro and when the blade's old Honami papers were discovered it was changed to Awataguchi Norikuni. Both attributions are suitable but Norikuni looks stronger and once the old judgment by Honami Koon was found then it is only appropriate to modify the attribution. More information SHOULD imply going back and reassessing and changing your opinion. Only an idiot refuses to change an opinion in the face of new information or ongoing study. So by this rule, you WANT judgments to both be conservative, and to be open to re-evaluation. Going to the Enju again, Enju is a conservative judgment that can be used to settle an issue about where the blade stands between Rai, Awataguchi and Enju. If it has properties of all schools and it is top class it could fall into any. An Enju blade is not necessarily inferior to a Rai blade. We do not know the state of polish or condition or history or information on the blade at the time of Juyo. We only know that at Tokuju the NBTHK had the opportunity to say den Awataguchi, Awataguchi, or den Awataguchi XXX, or Awatguchi XXX. The span of time is 5 years. They don't have to do anything or even pass it at Tokuju if there isn't any reason for it. There are other similar cases, but as the quality goes up, the chance of this happening goes down. Nobody should be mistaking Masamune for Masahiro but people saying Shimada or Masahiro that is acceptable. Because there isn't really any span of quality difference between those two and the styles overlap. Now, Norishige, Go, Masamune and Yukimitsu can overlap. The important thing is not getting mixed up between Shimada and Masamune or Norishige and Norikuni. From the first the school is the same but the quality and period are light years apart. For the second the period is close but the styles and school are far apart. If someone wants to say Norikuni and another wants to say Shintogo, those are a lot closer and depending on polish, condition, and how conservative you are being then you go one way or another. Last note: the entire concept of papering Hozon, Tokubetsu Hozon, Juyo and Tokubetsu Juyo has built into it this concept of re-study and revision. If a blade is good enough to promote it is definitely considered open to reassessment and new opinions. If you submit it covered with rust vs. top polish then what the judge can say is going to be different. Any shade of gray in-between means you need to accept some conservatism or leeway in the judgment. But, you need to absolutely understand and accept that elevating papers is not simply rubber stamping what was handed to you. It is re-assessed. If the prior judgment was not adequate it will be open to challenge and re-attribution. As the level goes up, then the scope narrows. So this is also something to really grasp and understand. If you have a completely lights-out Enju at Juyo, YOU need to understand that you are not at the conclusion of the story and that the judges likely understood this as well. If you have a pedestrian Enju YOU need to understand that you are at the end. If you cannot tell the difference this is your shortcoming and YOU need to improve your study. Once you see what you are dealing with and understand where you are in the story, you can understand what a placeholder attribution is and why it's done and that sometimes it's done with the idea that it's definitely going to be reassessed and revised. Anyone who ever got horyu should also understand this. It's not a reason to panic its a reason to send it in again because the judges on this viewing were not ready to make an assessment. If they felt it was gimei or bad for whatever reason that's what they would say. In terms of Juyo and such as well, what is acceptable at the lower level papers is not acceptable as the level elevates, and this is because of the necessary gray areas of mumei assessment. Because you are not dealing with an absolute in the sword, completely lacking the ability to time travel, a lower level paper will have more leeway built in. So if you can get it to Tokubetsu Hozon based on its history it is maybe going to be acceptable on the balance of all available information to let it sit there as such but it can't go higher because the requirements tighten every time you go higher. So you can maybe help yourself by looking at a paper and thinking "this is the least disagreeable conclusion at this level given this amount of study in the current condition of this sword and this amount of revision of existing previous decisions and with what we know in total in terms of the item's history and the universe of current scholarship." And if you think that weird things do not happen in terms of associated articles with swords, I am a case in point as the shirasaya with sayagaki for a sword that I bought about 7 or 8 years ago appeared attached to an unrelated sword as an "extra" shirasaya at Sotheby's auction, and wasn't shown in the photos on the auction page but only happened to come up in about the sixth level of emails with the auctioneer. Stuff gets separated, and sometimes is found again. So something with Dr. Honma's sayagaki should definitely be considered in different light than one without. I would hope that someone might consider his opinion when offering theirs and if it causes them to reassess then good. Though in this case the sword is already Tokuju with the same assessment, in the case of the Hisakuni above I would hope that people might understand the blade to be OK as Hisakuni and not just Awataguchi knowing what his opinion was. That should be guidance and if the blade couldn't get that assessment in the attribution column at Tokuju, I hope people would understand as being OK and to take it "under advisement" that not everyone agreed with him and it is OK to come up with your own opinion. Edit: one thing I meant to hammer as a point is that Tokuju is the only one that is going to be considered to be impossible to revise other than for factual information (i.e. a mostly obscured character that can be reassessed later to change a date for instance). The case of that blade is a tanto that was attributed to Yukimitsu by Honami Kotoku and then polished and changed to Masamune by Honami Kochu. So you are talking about the number one and number two judges, or more like 1a and 1b. The blade was owned by Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi among others. This passed Juyo as Masamune and then Tokuju as Yukimitsu mostly because of the strong feelings of Sato Kanzan that Yukimitsu should be considered at the same level as far as I can understand it. After his passing the blade was revised back to Masamune. Other than this exception which had of course strong past judgments in both directions and the most elite ownership: when something is passing Tokuju then it's done and the opinion being issued is done so with this consideration in mind. When you pass it at Tokubetsu Hozon and you think it can end up as Masamune then it could be done as Yukimitsu at this level because they know they will see it again and for a longer period of time with a spirited debate. This is the concept of a placeholder attribution, and to a lesser extent it can happen at Juyo. A case in point of this is a Tokuju Yukimitsu I once had that passed Juyo with an extraordinary note that the blade was historically Yukimitsu but that this was something to reconsider and revise at a later date (i.e. after being accepted as Juyo and this put in writing). This indicates that the earlier Juyo, the thought that the attribution could be revised and reassessed with more study and more knowledge was an active thought. The blade later passed Tokuju and Yukimitsu was confirmed but my feeling is that the blade was more likely Sadamune. Yukimitsu however is acceptable and one can consider it as such and it is OK. But understanding the context and the care of the judges and that even in writing they would say this is open to reassessment helps you understand what the intention was. In all of this, a blade should hopefully only go sideways or up when it passes through the process, if the process is working correctly. A Chogi that gets reassessed to Kanemitsu is sideways or an Aoe that gets changed to Kanemitsu is sideways to being up. But those do not indicate a randomness or an error, they indicate conservative judgments or the degree of flex that is necessary when something is based on opinions or a committee agreement. So Enju going to Awataguchi shouldn't be anything that should break a heart or cause a pulse to race. Awataguchi going to Nakajima Rai is what is the headache and a problem. So: remember... it's very difficult to undo this kind of thing. Once you say "Masamune" you can't retract that easily and then say Yukimitsu and the time it happened got overturned. You can say Yukimitsu and then retract that and say Masamune or Sadamune later which was what my blade was open to during and after Juyo and what happened to that tanto above in the first place. Tanobe sensei will indeed (and recently has) looked at blades (the case in point for recently is a member of this board but I don't want to dump anything)... but he looked at the mei and pronounced it good and that the blade should be carefully polished... and that he wants to see it again after polish. He's always going to make sure that there is something held in reserve to look at it again if the state is going to change. So in this case because it's verbal he's indicating a positive result on what he sees so far but it's subject to revision after polish. The blade needs to come back and be of a quality and style (style is probably already OK) that is in agreement with the mei before he is going to feel satisfied. I think for the owner that it is going to go 100% ok but ... this is how a good judge operates. ... Edit 2: I will throw in one other anecdote which comes from a few years back where Tanobe sensei showed me a really wonderful unpapered sword that had returned from polish and he had been studying. He said at this time that what I would say and what Ted Tenold would say is something he would consider in his appraisal. I looked at it and I offered an opinion that it was Masamune and this to me was pretty clear from the quality of the nie in it. The hamon looked like it was 40 below zero and someone breathed on it and their breath had frozen into crystals. I said if the owner wants to sell this please let me know because I would love to have it whatever it was. I then asked him what his judgment was... He told me, "I don't know, that's why I'm studying it." Of course he had this thought in his mind already about Masamune but not even verbally was he going to point in that direction because once saying that he would not be able to undo it. Again, shows the care with which this thing is done as the level goes up. Next time I encountered the blade it was in the Juyo oshigata as Masamune then passed Tokubetsu Juyo right after that confirmed as Masamune. In the end my snap judgment was fine for *kantei* and in hindsight it was a good call, but we need to remember always that kantei and attribution are two different things. The first is an exercise and a game and a chance to learn something. The second is ideally a careful process and even verbally Tanobe sensei in this case was not willing to say what he was thinking but was actively probing other people's thoughts, no matter how minor a character they were in the overall story, he wanted to hear what they thought. If something comes into Tokuju as Enju and the quality and skill and inherent features of the blade cause a reassessment to Awataguchi, I look at that as the process working not that the process is faulty. At the end of the day if you are going to buy it you need to be able to look at the blade though and in your own heart accept that the judgment is good. At the end of the day, nothing is perfect and it is still a subject matter that comes down to opinion, but hopefully educated and thoughtful opinion. There are things with papers that I don't like and other people accept without question. There are things in top collectors or with top dealers that they accept and others may throw rocks at. You need to be happy yourself with what you read and see.
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